By Paul Njie & Kesah Princely
The armed conflict in Cameroon’s English speaking regions has recently provoked a sharp increase in the number of people displaced in and out of the country.
According to a September 12 report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the deteriorating crisis plaguing the country’s Anglophone minority regions keeps forcing locals to flee their homes for safer areas.
Currently, the UNHCR revealed there are 42,887 refugees in Nigeria, and 530,806 internally displaced persons — this is opposed to over 35,000 refugees and close to 440,00 IDPs recorded in March 2019.
“There are over 40,000 Cameroonain refugees registered in Akwa-Ibom, Benue, Cross River and Taraba States in Nigeria — some 3,500 refugees were registered in May and June alone. In addition, there are some 530,000 IDPs. More than 50% of the IDP population have sought refuge in rural areas,” UNHCR’s report read in part.
The new figures suggest that nearly 100,000 persons have been displaced both internally and externally from March to September 2019, mainly owing to perpetual violence from the country’s military and non-state armed groups.
It remains unclear whether the government of octogenarian leader, Paul Biya will accept these recent figures, given that it has often maintained statistics of displaced persons stands at close to 200,000.
According to the country’s Minister of Territorial Administration, Paul Atanga Nji, organisations providing figures higher than those of the government are doing so for selfish motives.
While human rights groups accuse Ambazonian fighters — who seek a breakaway nation — of killings, kidnappings and enforcement of school boycott, the military is blamed for targeted killings, razing of whole villages and arbitrary arrests and detention.
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